Portraits of Leadership

Learning by Giving Foundation Confronts COVID-19

Hyperakt’s interview series hands the mic to nonprofit and cultural leaders around the nation as they guide their organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today we’re talking with Amy Kingman, Executive Director of the Learning by Giving Foundation. The foundation inspires and educates a new generation of philanthropists and community leaders to effectively distribute capital to local communities.

From your vantage point, what stories are not being told about the impact of the Coronavirus?

Founded by philanthropist Doris Buffett (Warren Buffett’s older sister) Learning by Giving (LxG) inspires and educates a new generation of young philanthropists and emerging leaders to effectively distribute capital to local communities through experiential philanthropy courses across a national network of colleges and universities.

From our viewpoint, college students are facing unseen challenges navigating virtual remote learning as a result of Covid-19 including access to technology, homelessness, work-school balance, and more. Covid-19 has put a spotlight on the inequities and disparities that college students face, especially those who identify as low-income, first generation, immigrant, minority, and more. Our students have had to adapt to radical changes on short notice despite the many socio economic challenges they all face.

This is one of the reasons why we are in the process of creating the Give to Learn Fund, which will provide funds directly to low income and first generation college students experiencing a financial obstacle that stops them from completing their degree.

How have you needed to change how your staff works or the way you deliver services in order to meet the new reality?

Learning by Giving experiential philanthropy curriculum is taught at 35 colleges and universities nationwide, almost all of which went virtual in March. Our program staff has been right in the thick of it with our faculty partners, learning how to pivot the curriculum to an online format, which has its challenges when these classes typically have in-person meetings and nonprofit site visits. We’ve worked with faculty to collect and share best practices and empower them to implement new ways of presenting information all while supporting their students who are also adjusting to a ‘new normal’.

LxG remains committed to providing donors, students, and life-long learners access to invaluable resources and tools to guide their philanthropic journey during this time of need. For this reason, we provided completely free access to our LearnGive online platform for the months of April, May and June. LearnGive is our central educational hub for emerging leaders to build their values, skills, and knowledge as innovative and effective philanthropists. You can download the LearnGive app for free on your mobile device.

What gives you hope in this moment?

We’ve had the opportunity to drop in on philanthropy classes more often after colleges and universities went virtual, which has been a silver lining during this pandemic. Witnessing students’ overall resilience during this time, and their instructors’ as well as their passion for their classes has been remarkable. During this time of need, nonprofits are receiving real grants from students in order to better serve their community during the pandemic.

Dive into Learning by Giving’s work at LearningByGiving.org and on Twitter. Read more interviews in the Portraits of Leadership series.

Hyperakt is a purpose-driven design and innovation studio that elevates human dignity and ignites curiosity. We believe in design’s power to build a future filled with courage, optimism, and honesty.

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